No other sentence in Gillian Flynn’s novel is as foreboding and encompassing as “There’s a difference between loving someone and loving the idea of her.” It highlights a distinction between perception and reality, and what can be perceived is not always the truth. Sometimes, it takes knowing someone to his/her marrow to ascertain the real person in front of you. He/she could be playing other people or playing against you – a sneaky role-playing game Flynn creates in an ugly and unwinnable duel of marriage.
Set in the reverberating milieu of economic recession and made bitterer by the poisonous wordsmithery of its engrossingly hateful characters, GONE GIRL breathes the bruising nastiness of relationships and deliberate manipulation of the charismatic that can either lead to self-preservation and self-destruction. Flynn weds the ideas of irreconcilable personalities and psychological gimmickry in her two beguiling characters that fascinatingly embodied the fact and fiction of their contrived dilemma. The literary and cinematic medium worked hand-in-hand in enlivening Flynn’s twisty matrimonial tableau, which are reminiscent of the little, inside jokes soulfully binding Nick and Amy. Amidst the prevailing cynic heartbeat and loathing personas, GONE GIRL is a compulsively consumable work of fiction whose ferocious spirit is raw and recognizable in real life – all the more irresistible and mesmerizing to its audience, readers and film-goers alike.
Nick (Affleck) giving a speech before the vigil for his missing wife.
I spent months dodging spoilers before finally seeing the DVD and though I have an idea of the twist halfway, I am still astounded of Fincher’s latest auteur. On its own cinematic existence, GONE GIRL engrosses with its menacing atmosphere shrouding the disintegration of marriage as provoked by its brilliantly acted, convoluted characters while being shaped splendidly as a savory mystery-thriller in its pre- and post-production components. There are just so many aspects to rave about, not to mention the themes (which I’ll tie to the book discussion later on). Between the animosity of its married duo and their willful deception to the media frenzy that they ignited, GONE GIRL is fundamentally, a story about bad people whose his and her versions of the true story are unreliable but irresistible – like any domestic drama hoi polloi feast but made more sophisticated to the senses.
Pike as Amy Elliott-Dunne
Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) is the latest, memorable onscreen couple whose relationship becomes the subject of Fincher’s stylish scrutiny. Affleck’s turbulent past romance enabled him to be strangely comfortable in his character’s indecisiveness, insensitivity and obliviousness who is constantly pelleted due to his tactless behavior in his wife’s disappearance. Carrie Coon as Margo, Nick’s twin sister, is affecting and tactful in the allegations against her brother. But ultimately, GONE GIRL is owned by Pike whose portrayal of Nick’s calculating, duplicitous and psychopathic better half is the vicious heart of the film. Pre-Fincher, Pike is a perennial supporting player whose radiance in her poised, learned but tamed roles don’t go unnoticed. But GONE GIRL finally let her loose; a revelatory showcase of her jarring capacity as an actress that could squirm her Bond Girl guise. Pike becomes the epitome of an Ice Queen; the coldness condensing in her conniving looks and her undeniable beauty unwarranted of the gritty and ghastly allure she exudes in the movie’s shocking moments. She is one of the indispensable elements that make GONE GIRL darkly enthralling. The rest is expertly delivered by Fincher’s team by their profound and visceral grasp of the source material.
“This man may kill me.”
Creating the mood for a mystery film is a meticulous ploy. But the fiduciary connection with Fincher is robust that GONE GIRL is no less gorgeous on design and reminiscent of the perturbed photography of Zodiac with heightened trepidation through unconventional decibels. The serenity of the environment captured in an ominous glow is disquieting as the supple camerawork immerses terror at Nick digesting the malevolent surprises Amy had in store for him on their fifth wedding anniversary. Before plunging to the alternate accounts of the Dunnes on page, GONE GIRL’s editing faithfully doesn’t spoil the book’s narrative structure and provokes the revealing twists and turns that make the film vividly entertaining. Enlisting Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross for the film’s original score proves to be part of Fincher’s radical film-making as their nonconforming music is vital to the movie’s DNA. The sonic output is a reflection of the apprehensive atmosphere – the placid suburb and the Dunne’s genuine romantic foundation heard in the soothing, minimalist symphonies; only to be infringed by distressing electronic abnormalities as the suspicion grows stronger and the mystery becomes more precarious. To name a few, Amy’s unyielding determination races in “Technically Missing” while the eerily relaxing “Sugar Storm” relishes on the Dunne’s courting period. A horrifying accompaniment to an equally horrific scene, “Consummation” warns of the horror of Amy’s devious plan to Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) and “Like Home” is a futuristic, hazy, relaxing tune to Nick and Amy’s telling resolution where the resounding anxiety is there to stay in their inescapable marriage.
Don’t they look harmless?
Kicking off as a mystery, GONE GIRL settles as a psychological thriller through the mind games it poses among its characters and audience. Punishment, pride and power over each other have kept Nick and Amy together even if they are apart. The film also throws a shade on journalistic sensationalism that the Dunnes’ utilize for their benefit. Who couldn’t resist a story of a beautiful, intelligent, known woman who went missing on her wedding anniversary with hints of foul play and was tragically, seemingly pregnant? Or a repentant husband talking to his wife through millions of viewers who has then learned that the media is as malleable as the façade he hides from the incriminating evidences against him? The frenzied coverage is as unreliable as Nick and Amy that the truth is tangled with deceit. GONE GIRL is also a daring and provoking machination of gender issues and while Nick’s emasculation and Amy’s misogynist’s motives raise controversy, the film (which I repeat and firmly believe) is centered on two bad people that happened to not reach their intended objective (the dissolution of their marriage) despite their pure intention. Nick and Amy bring out the best and worst in each other; like any other married couple. It’s just so happens that they’re bad people and maybe that’s the reason why they deserve each other.